Lake Como to Zurich train or car ride?

We are looking for a one- day scenic ride from Lake Como - mid lake/Bellagio to Switzerland and back - looking for the best scenic experience and the best stop in Switzerland for lunch/shopping experience!
Thank you!!

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

You do realize that you are posting on the cheapskates helpline. When you say shopping, are you looking for Patek-Phillipe watches or the Fox Town outlet mall in Mendrisio. Your header says Zurich, but that is an awful long way for a day trip. You'd have a late lunch at the train station and turn around and head back. Lugano is nearby and quite chic, I hear, and have some nice lunch spots on the lake and decent high end shopping. You can hop the ferry to Menaggio and ride over on the bus. Anything you buy or eat will be more expensive than in Italy.

Posted by Marie
Northbrook, Illinois, USA
181 posts

We stayed in Varenna (right near Bellagio) for two nights on Lake Como. On Sunday, August 4th, we took the train from Varenna to Tirano where we caught the Bernina Express, which is a Unesco Heritage scenic train. It takes 4 1/2 hours to travel from Tirano to Chur. The whole day on the train, from Varenna to Chur trip was from mid morning to 6:30 p.m. We stayed overnight in Chur, but instead of going back toward Como, we pressed on to Zurich for one night before we came back to the States. Chur was pretty Swiss and very quaint, but I am not much of a shopper. We went up the mountain in a cable car instead. Highly recommend it. I don't know if you could do the whole trip - from Como back to Como in a day just based on what the travel times were for us. Bernina Express - total bucket list experience! Jawdropping scenery. So cool. Happy travels!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Peggy, Travelling from Bellagio to Zürich will not be practical as a day trip, as it's at least 6 - 7 hours EACH WAY via train. I'd suggest choosing a location in Switzerland that's a bit closer. As you're coming from Bellagio, you'd also have to add the travel time from there to Varenna. Two places that you might consider are Lugano or Locarno. Both are an easy trip by train. For example, getting to Lugano from Varenna is about 2H:45M, with Locarno a bit further. Both places have Casinos, so you could stop there for a bit of "entertainment" also. IMO, both cities are worth more than a partial day. I don't have information on travel by car, but you can check Michelin or whoever to get the driving times. Travel by train will likely be the easiest solution. What type of "shopping" are you interested in? Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Peggy
New York
15 posts

LOL! We only "window" shop! This information has given me another thought about our trip..if we leave Lake Como a day earlier to ride to Switzerland, take the B express, stay overnight and have our departing flight from Switzerland rather than Milan?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Peggy, Travel to Switzerland via the Bernina Express should work. as the trip from Varenna to Tirano is only ~1.5 - 2 hours. However, a few points to mention..... As I recall, the Bernina Express doesn't get into Chur until about 18:30. While you could carry on into Zürich that night, you might want to spend one night in Chur and carry on to Zürich after breakfast the next morning. I can recommend a good hotel if you're interested. If you need information on a hotel in Zürich that's in a very convenient location for trains to the airport, post another note. Staying one night in Chur would still provide you with most of the day for "window shopping" in Zürich. Cheers!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6718 posts

I second the choice for the Bernina Express only I would recommend looking at spending the night in Pontresina instead of Chur. As an alternative, you can take the ferry from Bellagio to Como and make your way to the San Giovanni train station there. From the Como S. Giovanni station, you can take the train to Lucerne via the Gotthard tunnel route. Not too scenic in the tunnel but you are in Lucerne in about 3.5hrs (not counting the ferry time). You could overnight in Lucerne and then go on to Zurich the next day.